We first met Bernard Samson in Berlin Game, when the veteran MI6 field officer stumbled into the knowledge that his beloved wife, Fiona, was a Soviet spy. In Mexico Set, the second of the ten novels in Len Deighton‘s (1929-) classic spy series (three trilogies and a prequel), Bernard is plagued with the consequences of Fiona’s defection. Even though it was he who tipped off the agency to Fiona’s treachery, many of his superiors are prepared to believe that he, too, is a traitor. And all the while he is forced to take on a dangerous assignment to engineer the “enrollment” (recruiting) of a senior KGB officer — in order to prove his innocence.
Mexico Set (Bernard Samson #2) by Len Deighton (1984) 414 pages @@@@ (4 out of 5)
Len Deighton’s classic spy series continues
All while struggling with the need to raise his two small children alone, Bernard’s job requires him to fly back and forth to Mexico, where Stinnes, the KGB man, has turned up. Meanwhile, Fiona’s aristocratic father, who has little respect for Bernard, is attempting to force him to let the children move in with him. And Fiona threatens to kidnap the children if he grabs Stinnes, who now works for her in Berlin. It’s a perfect storm of impossible circumstances. Deighton capitalizes on these fraught circumstances, producing a relentlessly suspenseful tale that adds new dimensions to the story of Bernard Samson.
For additional reading
I reviewed the first of the ten Bernard Samson novels, Berlin Game, at A classic novel of Cold War espionage reminiscent of John le Carré. I’ve also reviewed Deighton’s delightful venture into science fiction, SS-GB, at In an alternate history, the Nazis occupy England.
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